Literary events

The 7th Berwick Literary Festival takes place from 15th to 18th October 2020, and this year it goes online.  All events are free to attend.  There is something here for everyone – the team have put in a huge amount of work to go online this year and ensure that the Festival still happens despite the present situation.

The full programme can be seen on the Festival website, and tickets for individual events should be booked in advance online.

Some of the events which have a historical focus are listed below:

Brian Ward: Before Martin Luther King – Frederick Douglass and Abolitionism in the North East

18 October @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Online

Brian is Professor in American Studies at Northumbria University and author of ten books, including Martin Luther King in Newcastle Upon Tyne. His talk on Martin Luther King’s visit to Newcastle was a highlight of our 2019 festival. This year his talk will focus on Frederick Douglass, a slave whose freedom was purchased by Newcastle Quakers, before considering other African American visitors to the North East who made the region a hub of 19th Century anti-slavery activism and who paved the way for Dr. King’s historic 1967 visit.


John Sadler and Rosie Serdiville: Dunbar to Durham – Britain’s Trail of Tears

15 October @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Online

In 1650 Oliver Cromwell won a decisive victory over the Scottish Covenanters at the Battle of Dunbar. During the aftermath, the forced march of 5,000 prisoners to Durham, many prisoners died. Rosie and John, using archive material and findings from the recent archaeological excavations in Durham, will provide a graphic reminder of the fate of Cromwell’s convicts.


Alex Larman: The Crown in Crisis – the untold story of the abdication and its participants

16 October @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Online

In December 1936 Britain faced a constitutional crisis that was the gravest threat to the institution of the monarchy since the execution of Charles I. Alex is an author and journalist whose new book, The Crown in Crisis, is a revelatory account of the abdication using never before seen documents and letters. Alex will discuss his discoveries and how they relate to the present day.


Simon Boyd: Eyewitness – an English woman’s journey from Northumberland to the Russian Revolution

16 October @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Online

The second daughter of Albert, 4th Earl Grey, Simon’s grandmother Lady Sybil Middleton (née Grey), was born into a world of privilege. She was nevertheless avid for new experiences and loved adventurous travel, which led her on an extraordinary journey from comfortable Edwardian society to Russia at war and then the maelstrom of the Russian Revolution.


Ursula Buchan: Did we really Dig for Victory?

17 October @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Online

Ursula Buchan is an award-winning author and journalist, writing mainly about gardening and social history. These two preoccupations come together in ‘A Green and Pleasant Land: How England’s Gardeners Fought the Second World War’, published by Hutchinson in 2013. Drawing on the research for that book she will address the question: ‘Did we really Dig for Victory?’. Her talk  on her grandfather, the novelist John Buchan, was a highlight of our 2019 festival.




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